Why is it important: It’s been a wild ride since the announcement of Elon Musk’s purchase by Twitter. The CEO of SpaceX and Twitter was not at all shy about voicing his opinion on Twitter’s practices regarding content moderation. Earlier this week, the tech pioneer made his position on message encryption very clear when he tweeted that private Twitter messages should be end-to-end encrypted, just like Signal and other secure messaging platforms.

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Musk made the announcement just days after the agreement was reached buy popular social media platform. The implementation of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) supports Musk’s goals for the platform, which include improving Twitter with “…new features, building open-source algorithms to increase trust, defeating spam bots, and authenticating all people.”

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In its current state, any direct message sent between Twitter users can be viewed by the sender, recipient, and any Twitter administrator with the required level of system access. What does this mean for the average user? Your private communications, which are usually meant to be kept confidential between parties, are not at all confidential. They can be retrieved and viewed at any time by a third party (in this case, Twitter administrators). Being able to access these messages means they are available for anything from responding to law enforcement requests to hackers and attackers looking to use or harm the senders, recipients, and other parties mentioned in the messages.

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E2EE helps prevent these third parties from gaining unauthorized access to private communications. Instead, the messages are converted to ciphertext, rendering them useless to anyone who accesses or intercepts the message. The ciphertext can only be decrypted when the sender and recipient have the right cryptographic keys to decrypt the original message. This encryption is designed to preserve the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data. CIA triad.

Online privacy advocates applaud E2EE and the protections it provides. Other users, from world governments to charities and special interest groups, believe that E2EE goes too far and helps cover up criminal activity and protect those involved. The only certainty today is that the boundaries regarding online privacy exist and are likely to remain far from clear.

Image credit: What is E2EE courtesy of Heimdal Security